New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall made headlines Sunday by claiming that he made the “worst play in NFL history” during his team’s contest against the Philadelphia Eagles.
After Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found Marshall for the first down, Marshall decided to throw the football backwards, ostensibly in order to evade the play-ending tackle. Unfortunately, the ball missed its target -- whatever that was -- and instead smacked an Eagles linebacker in the face. Possession Philadelphia.
"Wrong time to gamble,” Marshall said after the play. “I was pressing. Trying to make a play but can't do that. That was probably [the] worst play in NFL history."
While Marshall’s decision was inexplicable, we're not sure it was the worst play in league history. In an effort to make Marshall feel just a bit better after his second-quarter debacle, here are seven plays that could be considered even more bewildering than Marshall’s.
1. Jim Marshall Forgets Which Way to Run
Five decades later, Jim Marshall’s 66-yard fumble return in the wrong direction is still just as funny today. Marshall recovered a San Francisco 49ers mistake and took off -- going the distance into his own end zone. The play ended in a safety, and, 50 years later, has still managed to draw hundreds of thousands of YouTube clicks.
2. Aaron Brooks' Backwards Pass
Reminiscent of Brandon Marshall’s bizarre pass, Aaron Brooks’ backwards toss was seemingly borne out of a similar unthinking, baffling panic. Against the San Diego Chargers in 2004, Brooks pitched the ball behind him on a third-and-10, leading, obviously, to the turnover. The pass got so much press that SB Nation’s Canal Street Chronicles posted an article a decade later entitled, “Where Were You: Aaron Brooks’ Backwards Pass.”
3. Brett Favre Lobs Up Pass, Notches Game-Losing Interception
Ah, Brett Favre. With the NFC Championship Game knotted at 28 and just 19 seconds left in the fourth, Favre forgoes the apparently too-easy decision to run a couple of yards and position his team for the field goal. Instead, he releases a high-arching pass that lands in the hands of the Saints, destroying Green Bay’s chance at the Super Bowl and giving way to this grade-A assessment from commentator Paul Allen: "This isn’t Detroit, man, this is the Super Bowl!"
4. Mark Sanchez's "Butt Fumble"
Leading NFL Total Access to declare that this was “probably one of the lowest moments that you can have” on the football field, Sanchez’s play -- running into the backside of teammate Brandon Moore, fumbling the ball and watching as the Patriots ran it back for a touchdown -- has reached legend status over the years, even earning its very own Wikipedia page. The Jets, in typical Jets fashion, lost to New England by 30 points that day.
5. DeSean Jackson Drops the Ball Before Reaching the End Zone
Just milliseconds away from finishing a highlight-reel touchdown back in 2008, Jackson, playing for the Eagles, releases the football in celebration two yards short of the end zone. No touchdown, no six points and no happy Donovan McNabb.
6. Danny Trevathan Does the Same
In 2013, Trevathan pulled a Jackson (see No. 5) against the Baltimore Ravens, intercepting a Joe Flacco pass and nearly completing the pick-six -- before dropping the ball inches in front of the promised land. Trevathan told reporters after the game that he would "grow from” the play and that it was simply “a young mistake.” Welp.
7. Russell Wilson Picked Off On 1-Yard Line, Seahawks Lose Super Bowl
This one hardly needs any explanation. With just over 25 ticks remaining in Super Bowl XLIX and his team needing only one yard to score the likely title-winning touchdown, Seahawks quarterback Wilson followed a directive from the sidelines to throw the ball instead of playing it safe and handing it off to Marshawn Lynch. What happened next was excruciating for Seattle, incredible for New England and may just go down as the worst play in NFL history.
See, Marshall? Not so bad.
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